Courtesy Reuters

The German Question

There are only two real certainties in European politics today: Eastern Europe has been effectively liberated from Soviet domination, and the reunification of Germany is approaching. For all their historic worth, these certainties, in turn, create new uncertainties-after all, the postwar system of European stability, of deterrence and détente, was based on the permanence of the Soviet threat and of the division of Europe and of Germany. Now that history has turned the tables, it is the hitherto unquestioned structures of European order that are entering a period of unpredictability: in the East, all structures-from the Warsaw Pact to Comecon-set up to camouflage Soviet centralized control; in the West, the NATO alliance and the European Community (EC); in Europe as a whole the familiar ways in which East-West relations are conducted. Germany is at the center of all these uncertainties, not only geographically but politically.

This article will examine the de-Sovietization of Eastern Europe and coming reunification of Germany, and the implications of a single Germany for the cooperative structures of the West-NATO and the EC. The final part will sketch stages and considerations that should facilitate the passage to a reunified German state in a changing Europe.


Europe's two new certainties are interdependent: had Eastern Europe not succeeded in slipping away from Soviet control, there would be no chance for the reunification of Germany.

The most significant geopolitical development of the late 1980s was a reformulation of Soviet security interests. Europe, and Germany, have been divided for the past four decades because of Soviet insistence that the security of the U.S.S.R. called not only for the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union but also for ideological integrity in a communist system of states. Thus the Soviet Union maintained massive military forces not just to deter and defeat a military aggressor but also to quash any ideological rebellion. The presence of communist regimes in Eastern Europe was a vital security interest for the Soviet Union. It

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